Monday, May 22, 2006

Question from Reader: Teaching Crochet ~ Getting Started

My name is Denise. I ran across your website the other evening. I was IMPRESSED.  I also crochet and was interested in teaching some beginner to intermediate classes.  I was never sure how to approach this, can you give me some tips on how you began? (Oh, I  have been crocheting on and off for years. It is a real passion. )   Thanks for your help in advance.

Thank you for the compliment on my site, Denise.  I think it's wonderful that you're interested in teaching crochet classes.  To become a teacher, I think the first quality one should have is passion for the subject.  Passion is contagious -- the more you can infect others with your devotion, the more pleasurable the experience will be for you, the teacher, and most importantly, for your students.  It's good to read that you already have this quality.

While it's not one hundred percent required, I do think it helps if you are have certification in your background.  The Crochet Guild of America offers a Masters Basic Stitch program and Pauline Turner offers an International Diploma in Crochet Both programs looked good to me, but when I had the chance to take the Craft Yarn Council of America's Certified Instructors Program -- in person -- I jumped on it!  It was an intensive 3-day, 17-hour class that was packed with wonderful teaching information!  Of course you can do it by correspondence, but IF YOU GET A CHANCE to take it in person -- DO -- it!!  (With the CYCA's program you will also need to volunteer 15 hours of teaching time for each level.)

Does it matter to your students if you're accredited in crochet?  I think being accredited says to your students you're serious about teaching crochet.  Now before my email box becomes flooded with notes about not being able to afford the courses, then please note that in most cases it is not necessary to be accredited to teach crochet -- BUT if you're serious about it and your teaching becomes your job, as it is with me, then in most cases the course(s) becomes a tax deduction.  (You'll want to talk to your tax accountant first!)

Can you teach crochet without being accredited?  Yes!  And to help you the Craft Yarn Council of America set up the "Each One Teach Two" program.  After you're done teaching, let the CYCA know and you just might have your name pulled as part of their monthly "Thank You for Participating" drawing.  ((BTW: Congratulations to JANE!!))

You'll also want to note that sometime in the (near?) future, Lion Brand will be launching a Crochet Instructor program; they just launched their Knitter's Instructors program, so crochet can't be far behind, right?  :)

When you are ready to teach, here's a few tips to keep in mind:
     * Smile!  It's infectious and helps set the tone of "fun."
     * Praise!  We all make mistakes, but rather than dwell on them, find something to compliment such as the yarn color selection, the way the hook is being held, the way the stitches look, and for having the right stitch count. 
     * Show!  Walk around to your students and demonstrate what you're teaching.  They'll learn quicker and appreciate the time you spend with them.
     *  Laugh!  If YOU make an error and need to rip out your demo work, laugh about it.  This will show that it's no big deal to take out work and correct it.
     * Look!  Watch your students work and always give equal eye contact.  (I took a class once where the Instructor only looked at those in front of her & to those on her left.  The eye contact is needed to help your students know you're all on the same page!)

The next step is to figure out where you'll be teaching.  Will it be in your home, at a local coffee shop, or at a local craft/yarn store?  You decide!   You'll also have to figure out a way on how to promote your classes ... flyers, newspaper ads, and having a website/blog are powerful tools to help students find you.  To read about how I got my start, click here.  And, if you can, try to get your hands on the now out of print book, Crochet for fun & profit by Darla Sims (you can try ebay; they have an option you can set up to have them notify you if an item comes up for auction; or your local library may have the book available for loan). 

And remember, it doesn't matter if you teach crochet for free or for profit.  The key is to remember to pass on your passion; let it infect others in enjoying this fantastic fiber art form we call CROCHET!  :)

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